Thursday, June 24, 2010

Romanian media criticized as a security threat


BUCHAREST, Romania — Like other countries, Romania sees terrorism, corruption and organized crime as potential threats to its national security. But as far as the government is concerned, the media should be added to that list.

The Supreme Defense Council, which sets defense priorities and how to protect Romania, also lists tax evasion and undue political influence in state institutions as threats.

Its reports carry weight — the council is made up of the nation's president, the defense minister, Romania's intelligence chiefs and other senior officials.

Romanian journalists are calling the council's document a blow to press freedom in a democracy. The document, drawn up Tuesday, was sent for approval to Parliament on Wednesday.

Relations between the government and the media have become more strained in the last two years since Romania went into a recession.

Newspapers and television stations, some of which are owned by political players, are generally biased, either supporting or opposing the government.

The council's document criticizes "orchestrated media campaigns that denigrate state institutions by disseminating false information."

In another development regarding the media, the country's most notorious TV journalist and his producer were formally arrested Wednesday and detained for 29 days on charges of blackmailing and threatening a mayor. Dan Diaconescu and producer Doru Parv are charged with demanding money from Ion Motz, the mayor of Zarand village, to avoid broadcasting compromising material about him.

Romania threw off communist rule more than two decades ago. Under communism, its media were tightly controlled.

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